February 20th has been a special day for me every year since 1995. It marks the birthday of a man who is deeply a part of my life yet who I never actually knew – Kurt Cobain.
People think I am insane, still listening to Nirvana all these years later, playing my B-sides and rarities on repeat and banging away at E minors and F’s on my guitar. Just like in that Portlandia skit, the 90’s never ended for me and I don’t really care.
I really can’t imagine my life without Kurt Cobain. I’ve always been a music type but when I was 8 years old, my cousin Ken (shout out!) gave me the Nirvana single cassette tape of “Smells Like Teen Spirit/Even In His Youth.” Those chords changed my life.
It saddens me the stigma that surrounds Kurt because of his death. Unfortunately, a lot of people forget the fun loving and cheerful person he was. He wrote tongue in cheek songs making fun of The Andy Griffith Show (“Floyd the Barber”) and even tried his hand at making music for the Ren and Stimpy Show.
People also forget that he always a champion for equality long before it was cool to NOT be a homophobe or misogynist. He proudly wrote in the linear notes of Incesticide, “If you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us -- leave us the fuck alone! Don't come to our shows and don't buy our records.” David Geffen must have had a coronary.
I always hear, “Yeah and Courtney Love killed him.” Which I firmly believe is not true. In fact, I love that Kurt adored Courtney. He applauded her for being what men to this day abhor – outspoken, intelligent and brave.
Last year I commemorated my 30th birthday with a trip to Aberdeen, Wa., where Kurt was born and raised. I saw the tiny house he grew up and sat on the muddy banks of the Wishkah River where he used to bide his time. Walking the streets of his town, it really made me think about the pastoral small life he had lead and how jarring and rough his sudden explosion of fame and the outside world must have been to him. Aberdeen is one of those places that could in no way prepare you for the trappings of fame and excruciating popularity.
They say he was the voice of a generation. I don’t know about that but he was, as I wrote in black Magic Marker under the Wishkah Bridge, a light for me when all others went out. When others gave up hope, I gave in to Kurt’s Nirvana and I am forever in debt to his priceless advice.
Happy birthday, Kurt.
Peace, love and empathy…
My favorite grin ever... (: